For most evangelical Christians, Friday was a day of mixed feelings in light of the Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriages across all 50 states. Some engaged in heated debates on social media, while some stood back and watched them unfold. Individuals on both sides of the debate have lost friends and acquaintances over the last few days.
In response to these events, evangelical leaders encouraged Christians not to "cave nor panic," in the words of Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
"The Supreme Court can do many things, but the Supreme Court cannot get Jesus back in that tomb," Moore wrote in a piece posted by the Washington Post. "Jesus of Nazareth is still alive. He is still calling the universe toward his kingdom."
Moore went on to explain that the "gospel doesn't need 'family values' to flourish," and that "in fact, the church often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it. That was the case in Ephesus and Philippi and Corinth and Rome, which held to marriage views out of step with the Scriptures," he said.
In a similar tone, Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that though the laws on marriage may have changed, "God's truth has not changed. The Holy Scriptures have not changed. The gospel of Jesus Christ has not changed. The church's mission has not changed. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever."
Evangelicals have also expressed their resolve to hold on to their beliefs despite the Supreme Court ruling, and to live out these beliefs.
“We won’t marry two men. That goes against our beliefs,” Reverend Wilfredo De Jesús, the senior pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Chicago, told the New York Times.
“We’re prepared to go to prison, or whatever occurs, but the church cannot change,” he added.
Over 100 evangelicals signed a declaration that expressed their affirmation of the traditional view of marriage, including Alistair Begg of Parkside Church; Bryan Loritts of the Kainos Movement; Carmen Fowler LaBerge of the Presbyterian Lay Committee; Naghmeh Abedini, who has been advocating for her imprisoned husband, Pastor Saeed Abedini; and Trip Lee, who is most well-known for his career as a Christian rapper.
"While we believe the Supreme Court has erred in its ruling, we pledge to stand steadfastly, faithfully witnessing to the biblical teaching that marriage is the chief cornerstone of society, designed to unite men, women, and children," said the statement. "We promise to proclaim and live this truth at all costs, with convictions that are communicated with kindness and love."
Indeed, many evangelicals have called this period an opportunity. An opportunity to "serve as a light in a dark place," according to Russell Moore. "A faithful opportunity to shine for the gospel," in the words of Rosaria Butterfield and Christopher Yuan, both who wrote books on sexuality. An opportunity to "put our trust in him -- so that we will stand and not fall, so that we will live, and not die," Marshall Segal, a contributor of Desiring God, an evangelical blog, said.
"We praise God for the opportunity to shine a light on His divine plan for the family during the years ahead," said Jim Daly, the president and CEO of Focus on the Family, a Christian broadcast that hones in on family issues.
“In the days to come, we must remember to season our words with salt," Daly continued. "It’s time to be a light in these dark times. It is not time to be combative and caustic. Now, more than ever, we must emulate Jesus Christ. We must continue to show that loving kindness as we talk with our neighbors and friends who see this issue differently.”